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Just as there is an art to making a deal (if we are to believe Donald) there is an art – or rather, a formula – to writing a business book. First there’s the cover: shouty, all caps and in all shades of primary optimism. Then the content, often kicked off with a confession. There’ll be practical take-aways (three, five or seven skills to apply right now) and references to the rigorous research that went into them. Crossovers into sport or ancient wisdoms should be expected. Sometimes their message may not feel that surprising. And yet many of these titles have been selling millions of copies for decades. Like the lucrative self-help market they resemble, they have a way to make us feel like we’re taking action. Sometimes though, they do teach us lessons – however straightforward. Our insight? The formula for success is a little harder to find.

1

Trump: The Art of the Deal

by Donald J Trump & Tony Schwartz

Believe me. He knows smart words. He knows the best words. They are great words. Losers can’t make deals. Sad!

2

Factfulness

by Hans Rosling

Here’s a fact: what you think you know is probably just preconception. Only pursue things that are supported by evidence.

3

Capital

by Thomas Piketty

You could read this massive and insightful tome about macro-economics but, really, what’s it going to teach you about “unicorns”?

4

Zero to One

by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

“Stop copying other people!” said Paypal’s co-founder, writing a book full of examples and giving you practical advice to follow.

5

Good to Great

by Jim Collins

Disciplined leaders who hire disciplined people and face reality can be great – Collins isn’t just telling you, he’s got data.

6

The Culture Code

by Daniel Coyle

Galvanise your staff by embracing tough feedback, delivering bad news in person and creating a corny catchphrase: be more bee.

7

The Trust Manifesto

by Damian Bradfield

So you want to found a tech start-up? You folk don’t have the best rep nowadays. Better listen to users.

8

Start With Why

by Simon Sinek

Whoever told you what matters is when and where your business started, well, they were wrong. It’s always about why.

9

The 4-Hour Work Week

by Timothy Ferriss

Be effective. Act professional. If you listen to Ferriss you could read this sentence 200 per cent faster than most.

10

Grit

by Angela Duckworth

Like everything else, grit can be developed. Don’t stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top.

1

10

Dare to Lead

by Brené Brown

Did you think courage was about bravado? Vulnerability matters more. All perfectionism and no generosity make Jack a dull boy.

12

Range

by David Epstein

The machines are coming: they can do your specialised, fiddly bits. All you have going for you is common sense.

13

Everything is Figureoutable

by Marie Forleo

No money? Not your fault. You just need to figure out you can figure out anything that needs figuring out.

14

Atomic Habits

by James Clear

Change is not about annihilating your former self. This book drops a different kind of bomb: baby steps transform lives.

15

Trillion Dollar Coach

by Eric Schimdt (et al)

Teams want to be loved. Talk to them about stuff that’s not work – it won’t cost you a trillion dollars.

16

Winning Not Fighting

by John Vincent & Sifu Julian Hitch

You’d think a martial arts-inspired approach to business requires warmongering but the opposite is true: breathe in the Shaolin serenity.

17

I Will Teach You to be Rich

by Ramit Sethi

Allocate budgets. Invest early. The reason you can’t save is also why you got fat: you kinda can’t be bothered.

18

The Lean Startup

by Eric Ries

Write your business hypothesis but don’t get too analytical: try it, test two options. Treat ’em lean, keep ’em keen.

19

Bounce

by Matthew Syed

Take it from a table-tennis champ: talent is a tenuous idea. Greatness is not genetic. Guess what? It’s about practice.

20

How to Win Friends and Influence People

by Dale Carnegie

Make people feel like it was their idea. Listen. Praise. Smile. Avoid rows. And, for God’s sake, remember their names.

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